Sources of the Confucian Inspired Sayings plus Additional Quotes
The influence of the Confucian model with regard to women's status can be found in a variety of texts including, among others, The Book of Odes, The Book of Rites, The Book of Changes, and Admonitions for Women. The following relate to those found in the lesson "Women and Confucianism.
1. The Mother of Mencius in Liu Hsiang, "Biographies of Admirable Women." (ca. 33 B.C.E.): "A woman's duties are to cook the five grains, heat the wine, look after her parents-in-law, make clothes, and that is all!." "It will be theirs neither to do wrong nor to do good. Only about the spirits and the food will they have to think." " A woman's duty is not to control or take charge."
2. The Book of Odes, no. 264. (ca. 781-771 B.C.E.): "Disorder is not sent down by Heaven, It is produced by women." "Those who cannot be taught, cannot be instructed. These are women and eunuchs."
3. Admonitions for Women, Madam Ban Zhao, Female Confucian philosopher and historian, (ca. 45-116 CE): "Let a woman modestly yield to others; let her respect others; let her put others first, herself. last." "Lay the (girl) baby (at birth) below the bed to plainly indicate that she is lowly and weak, and should regard it as her primary duty to humble herself before others." "A husband can marry twice, but his wife must never remarry. Just as Heaven cannot be disobeyed, so the wife cannot keep away from her husband." "As Yin and Yang are not the same nature, so man and woman have different characteristics....Man is honored for strength; a woman is beautiful on account of her gentleness."
4. Record of Ritual and Book of Rites (Han dynasty): "No daughter-in-law, without being told to go to her own apartment, should venture to withdraw from that of her parent-in-law. What ever she is about to do, she should first ask leave from them." "Women are to be led and to follow others."
5. Ban Gu, Han dynasty Philosopher: "Why is it that according to the rites the man take his wife, whereas the woman leaves her house? It is because the yin is lowly, and should not have the initiative; it proceeds to the yang in order to be completed."
6. Nu Lun U - Analects for Women (Tang dynasty): "Conjugality is made of husband's strength and wife's frailty...Accepting the blame and keeping quiet while he is in anger...Serving the husband around the clock when he is ill."
7. The Admonitions of the Instructions to the Court Ladies, quoted in Edward Schafer, "Ancient China," Great Ages of Man series, Time-Life Books, 1967. "A husband is Heaven, and Heaven cannot be shirked."
8. Confucian marriage manual, quoted in Nah Trang, "Traditional Roles of Women as Reflected in Oral and Written Vietnamese Literature," Berkeley: Asian Studies Ph.D. thesis, 1973: "Even though you sleep intimately on the same bed and use the same cover with him, you must treat your husband as if he were your king or your father."
9. Menciuss, a disciple of Confucianism, "There are three unfilial acts: the greatest of these is the failure to produce sons."
10. Greater Learning for Women, Neo-Confucian writer Kaibara Ekken (Togukawa period): "Women's nature is passive." "The foolishness of woman fails to understand the duties that lie before her very eyes."
11. Quotation attributed to Confucius, quoted in Denis Bloodworth, "The Chinese Looking Glass,, Farrar, Straus & C., ©1967: "The woman with no talent is the one who has merit."
12. Quotation attributed to Confucius, quoted in Alasdair Clayre, "The Heart of the Dragon," Houghton Mifflin, 1985:"We should not be too familiar with the lower orders or with women,"
13. Sayings based on Confucian ideals quoted in William Forbis, Japan Today:A People, Places, Powers, Harper & Row, 1975: "If you love your wife, you spoil your mother's servant." "Woman has no particular lord. She must look to her husband as her lord, and must serve him with all worship and reverence." "A woman should look on her husband as if her were Heaven itself, and never weary of thinking how she may yield to him."
14. Popular Saying quoted in, among others, Sharon Sievers, "Women in China, Japan, and Korea," Restoring to Women to History, OAH, 1988; Keith Taylor, "The Birth of Vietnam," University of California Press, 1983: "A woman ruler is like a hen crowing."
15. Xiao Ma, Asian Women's Studies Program, CUNY-Buffalo: "One of Women's Virtues lies in her ignorance." "Woman are as different from men as earth from heaven." "Women are a lower state from men."
Lyn Reese is the author of all the information on this website
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Women in World History Curriculum